So many reviews so little time, not to mention my own projects (one manuscript writing, one manuscript editing), eats into a man’s time, but never let it be said that it has kept me from my duties as a blogger. Grab a seat, folks, and make sure to sit on the edge of it because today’s Plot and Motivation is going to look at dramatic tension. Oh My God Drama!
So, Starving Author, what is dramatic tension and why should we care? Well, as most in the writing business know, dramatic tension is excitement and anticipation a person feels before the resolution of some action. In the case of writing, substitute ‘reader’ for ‘person’ and ‘some action’ with ‘a plot point’ and you’re good. In other words, it’s that anticipation and feeling built up that keep the reader reading and looking forward to the resolution of a plot point, be it a subplot or the main plot line. In essence, dramatic tension is one of the greatest motivating factors to read a piece of sequential fiction.
There are, in my eyes, two major components to dramatic tension: the Build and the Payoff. The Build is just what it sounds like. It is the rising action, the layers of mystery, the array of antagonists that help build excitement and doubt. It is the true definition of dramatic tension itself and that tension also often leads to the reader investing in the characters of the story as well. If they feel the need to see the end of the plot, it is likely they will feel an attachment to the characters involved in said plot as fellow travelers down the plot river.